Called by Name

It can be easy to focus on priestly ordination as the one and only milestone that our seminarians need to clear, but this ‘one-track’ attitude is not good for our men who are in formation. For one thing, ordination is not the goal of seminary, formation is.

As I state here often, about fifty percent of the men who enter the seminary do not end up getting ordained. For the vast majority of them, this is a decision that has been come to in peace and joy and they look forward to the next chapter of their life with a greater clarity – they know they are not called to priesthood.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

But when we only focus on ordination we can give men the impression that in order to go to seminary they must be sure they are going to make it to priesthood; or in order for seminary to be a success they need to make it ordination. But honestly, the men that are sure they’ll be ordained from the start are sometimes not the best candidates for priesthood.

The best candidates are men who realize that the Lord’s will is the top priority, and they don’t assume that they are called to be priests, rather, they enter into formation with openness and eagerness and then they see what happens.

I am happy to report that all of our seminarians are very clear on this expectation. They are allowing the process of formation to unfold, and while I think each one of them could make an excellent priest, I know that the Lord may call them to something else, and I have to be prepared to accompany them to make that step if need be.

One way we can support our men in this balanced approach to formation is to celebrate the major steps along the road to ordination. We may not make as big a deal about them as ordination, but I assure you that they mean a great deal to the men who are doing the hard work of priestly formation.

This spring we will celebrate with Grayson Foley and EJ Martin as they graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from their respective seminaries. This is a big occasion for these men who are completing the ‘discipleship stage’ of formation, where they are learning to be a student of Jesus Christ, and they are about to move to the ‘configurative stage,’ where they will be formed after the image of Christ the Priest.

Grayson is one of our ‘longest tenured’ seminarians, he spent four years earning this degree, while EJ put in two very challenging academic years since he entered seminary already holding a bachelor’s degree. EJ and Grayson will also celebrate a big milestone on May 17, when they are admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders. This is the point in formation when seminarians proclaim before their bishop that they are ready to be public representatives of the church and they’ll start wearing the roman collar. This does not guarantee ordination, but it is a very important step for these men.

Please keep them in your prayers and congratulate them if you see them around the diocese!

Father Nick Adam, vocation director(Father Nick Adam can be contacted at